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Indian Americans at DMV react to Modi, BJP setback

Indian Americans at DMV react to Modi, BJP setback
Indian Americans at DMV react to Modi, BJP setback


The first thing Syed Ashraf did when he woke up at 5:45 a.m. last Tuesday in his Ashburn, Virginia, home was look at the Indian election results.

His tension eased and he felt a glimmer of hope as he looked through the results coming out of the subcontinent, he said. After 47 days of elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modis' ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured the largest number of parliamentary seats, but failed to secure the majority needed to form a government, an unexpected rebellion against the Hindu nationalist party that dominated the country. politics of the country for a decade and stoked tensions between religious groups.

People have really spoken out, and that's a good thing, said Ashraf, an Indian Muslim who grew up in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and moved to Virginia in 2000. Washington Post. I was worried about the future of my community there, as well as other communities. I I was losing faith in Indian democracy.

Modi was sworn in for a rare third term on Sunday, but the new parliamentary makeup could put more checks on his tenure. power. And that's why I feel good, said Ashraf, 51.

Indian Americans in the Washington DC area, Maryland and Virginia followed India's elections last week, checking WhatsApp group chats and waiting for the latest information. The stakes are high: widening wealth inequalities; India's position in the global economy; and threatened multiculturalism and secularism, as the BJP attempted to push the country's minorities to the margins.

As the setback for Modi and the BJP became clear, the reactions of Indian Americans at the DMV varied: shock, joy, hope, worry, resignation. For some, the change in Indian politics suggests a positive step to support the country's diversity. Others said it could endanger India's economic growth or would make little difference.

Raj Prasannapa, 60, is among those who fear the results will slow India's economic growth.

A BJP supporter, Prasannapa followed the elections on NDTV, an Indian media outlet, predicting that the party would get more seats than it did.

He pointed to the fall in Indian stocks as election results unfolded. (The country's stocks Since then, I have recovered.)

India was on the right track economically, Prasannapa said from outside a Hindu temple in Sterling, Virginia, as the sun set and a Hanuman pooja, or prayer, sounded. Today, he says, a Parliament without a clear majority leaves India in limbo. (Under the BJP, India's share of global GDP has increased, although high unemployment and low rural wages persist.)

Kumar Tirumala, another member of the Prasannapapas temple, carried bananas as offerings in the pooja. He rose late Monday night to deliver results, which he said would be another landslide for the BJP. For him, Modi and the BJP represent the preservation of Hindu culture. Almost 80 percent of the country's population is Hindu.

On Tuesday evening, he said, he was pleased with the results: Modi got a third term, and that was enough. In the years to come, Tirumala said he hoped the BJP would bounce back.

Many people from the country's minorities, like Ashraf, disagree. The party built a temple on the site of a razed mosque, revoked the special autonomous status of the predominantly Muslim region of Kashmir and excluded Muslims from a fast track to citizenship. Emboldened by the party's initiative, lynchings targeted the country's Muslims, and local authorities used bulldozers to demolish the properties of Muslims accused of crimes. During the election campaign, Modi called the country's Muslims infiltrators.

Tensions have also touched Western soil. Indian officials orchestrated an assassination attempt this year against a Sikh separatist leader, a vocal critic of Modi, in the United States, The Post reported, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was investigating allegations according to which the Indian government was behind the murder of a Canadian Sikh separatist leader.

Modi has done nothing for us, Balwinder Singh said from the quiet hall of a gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, in northwest Washington. The way he treated Muslims is not good. The Sikh community is not happy either.

For Singh, 54, the election results represent a setback against Modi's Hindu nationalist agenda. This is a good sign for India, he said.

Laby George, who leads an Indian church in Silver Spring, said breaking the BJP's political monopoly was crucial to the health of the nation's democracy. He stayed up until about 3 a.m. to watch the election and fell asleep relieved.

India is a democratic country. For a democracy to thrive, there must be a good opposition party, he said. This will help the country move in the right direction. I'm not saying that everything will be fixed, but there may be resistance.

Last year, mobs fueled by Hindu nationalism attacked hundreds of Christian converts in dozens of villages in eastern India. Hopefully from now on, attacks on minorities will be less frequent, said Selvin Selvaraj, 49, of Gaithersburg.

He waited until 4:15 a.m., hoping the opposition would get more seats, Selvaraj said.

Rockville resident Rupinder Singh said the parliamentary reshuffle was not enough. He said many Sikhs do not have much faith in political parties and these parties are different sides of the same coin.

This month is a cruel reminder of that for many Sikhs. June marks the 40th anniversary of the Indian army's raid on Sikhism's holy site, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, to kill a Sikh militant leader. Hundreds of people died in the attack. The bloody raid took place under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Indian National Congress Party.

Now, no matter who holds the title of Prime Minister or who sits in Parliament, India faces problems that are becoming more urgent by the day, such as the worsening climate crisis, said Rupinder Singh , 40 years. Last week, a heatwave killed 14 people in India, including 10 election officials.

When it's 140 degrees and there's no water, what's going to happen? he said. It will be the haves and the have-nots, and that's scary. No political party is seriously tackling this problem.

Many Native Americans at the DMV said they would continue to closely monitor the political situation in their homeland, some hopeful, others doubtful.

It is neither positive nor negative. I am still skeptical about what is happening and what will come next, said Imran Kukdawala, 40. The BJP did not get the kind of majority it was hoping for. But they are still in power.




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